No country can become a mining destination or successfully attract mining investors without having to first generate accurate geo-science data and information for investors to take advantage of.
This much was the topic of discussion when Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Abdulkadir Muazu, told would-be mining investors at an Investment Roundtable held at the Africa Downunder 2019 Conference in Perth, Australia, where he spoke on the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP) embarked upon by the federal government to provide geo-science information for the investing public.
He said although Nigeria is not yet recognised as a mining destination, the country is very keen and committed in becoming one � hence the NIMEP project which will give investors accurate data to help guide them in mining investments in Nigeria.
‘We as a country recognise that we are not yet a mining destination, but are committed to being one. Yes, we have been involved in oil and gas for the last 50 years and it has been the mainstay of our economy but we have realised that we have potential in mining and opening our doors for anyone interested in mining to come and invest. Having realised that we don’t have the best geological data that should be available for investors, the government within the last two years is investing in the unprecedented NIMEP project for some strategic investment promotion reasons.’
He reasoned that even though those who own licences should be responsible for detailed exploration, government in a rare move attract investors has undertaken exploration activities to create the necessary data for investors to be informed and generate interest.
‘For many years we have not been investing in exploration and do know that ultimately those who own exploration licences should be responsible for detailed exploration but as a nation we have committed to undertaking exploration activities that would create the necessary data for people to know and take interest. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, we are embarking on an integrated exploration project costing a lot of money in order to generate a lot of data particularly on key strategic minerals. We believe that by the time this project is completed, there will be exciting findings that will make those interested in these minerals to come forward.’
Dr Muazu told the investors that the perception about Nigeria is not the reality on ground.
‘We know how we are perceived, but l tell you that Nigeria is a great country that is willing and open for business. There are many sitting here who have been to Nigeria before, and before they went they were scared but on getting there their perceptions changed because they discovered the story was different. We are a great people and very vibrant. The few negative views does not reflect our nation, culture or values.’ He told his listeners.
The leader of Nigerian delegation to the Conference, also revealed that apart from the NIMEP project driven by the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), the Cadastral system in Nigeria is also being enhanced for transparency and accountability.
‘We are strengthening the capacity of our cadastre to ensure that licensing regime is transparent and accountable and investors both domestically and internationally can be assured of the security of the tenure of their licences and leases. We also believe we have to develop guidelines that will ease the export of our mineral resources to outside the country. With collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investments and other stakeholders, we are viewing and reviewing mineral export guidelines that we believe can promote export of our commodities particularly minerals out of Nigeria.’
He said Nigeria is also focusing on gold as a key mineral that she believes has capacity to develop her minerals sector by setting up a very good national gold purchase policy.
Director General, NGSA, Dr Abdulrazaq Garba also at the meeting said NIMEP was basically embarked upon by the government to provide geo-science information for the investing public. ‘Nigeria has a history of geological survey that is 100 years old today but the issue of investing in geoscience data had been lacking. Based on this the federal government in an effort to diversify the economy came up with a plan suitable for the industry.
‘The objective was to generate geoscience data in green field and brown field setting using modern exploration technique. This is a conscious effort based on demand by investors to generate geoscience information and de-risk the mining sector so as to provide geo-science information and data that investors can use to identify mineral areas where they can invest.’
Source: Ministry of Mines and Steel Development